What is a Ring Topology? Advantages – Disadvantages

In a ring topology, the underlying network that connects the computers together forms a logical ring-like communication path. In a ring at any point, there could be two paths to move one is left and the other is right. Similarly, in a computer network, a connected device can do communicate from either side to reach another device or server in-ring topology.

Ring Topology Network

I this tutorial we will understand how we can set up a network as a ring topology, what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Ring topology types:

There can be two types of ring topologies.

  • Unidirectional
  • Bi-directional

Although there is a physical connection in each direction, although, in a unidirectional ring, the data can be transmitted only in one direction.

How to set up a Ring topology network?

In-ring topology, we need two side communication. But the computer can have only one IP in a LAN over the ethernet card. But we need two outgoing wires. For that, the computer will plug the cable into the switch or hub. Form Switch/Hub there will be two cables in each direction to connect the neighbor HUB/Switch.

How each LAN computer will get the IP address? So there must be a router with DHCP. In-Ring Topology any switch/hub can connect to the router.  The router works as a gateway between the LAN and the outer network. The outer network could be the Internet or any other network. When a computer in network topology comes up it sends a DHCP request to the router for IP allocation.

Token Passing – For medium access:

The medium access control method in a ring topology is token passing.  A token or special packet keeps traversing the ring path. A token is nothing but just an empty frame. Whenever a computer needs to send the data, it tries to hold the token. If the token is captured then only the station sends the data else to wait for the token. This allows only one computer to do the transmission at a time.  This enables no collision in the ring network.

Ring Topology advantages:

  • Link failure in one direction will not break the communication. For example, if the left network path fails, the communication will from the right path.
  • Very easy to set up as we need a device with three-port only. This could be a low-cost hub.
  • Reduces the chances of collision because of the token passing.  This brings better performance than a bus topology.
  • Each computer can react to another computer without traversing to a central server.
  • Each terminal has equal access.

Ring Topology Disadvantages :

  • The data transfer rate is slower as compared to the star topology.  A packet will pass all the intermediate nodes before reaching the destination. While in star topology a packet needs to only pass a single central hope (E.g Switch).
  • Single point of failure –  If any intermediate computer goes down between, communicating parties, all communication will be lost.
  • More expensive, as compared to a star topology. As needed additional hardware other than ethernet card.